Notes from this Morning #10: You’re not alone, we love you.

My quest for self-development led me down an interesting side road into addiction, psychedelics, and drug use yesterday. I had a call with an acquaintance yesterday that has changed my view of addiction, and my life. Let me share it with you.

I’ve been thinking about starting this company called “Think Station.” It’s an idea to open a “center for cognitive learning”, a place to retrain our brains to do what they want through, deep work, meditation, you know… that meta stuff. I told my friend about this, and after about 45 minutes of me spewing my ideas on him and waiting for him to tell me what a great idea it was; instead, he gave me a couple of pieces of advice and some books to read, and resources to check out. I immediately purchased the books he suggested, became a member of a research group on psychedelics, and watched a talk by Johann Hari. (I’ll share all the resources later)

Now I don’t want to get distracted and talk too much about my ideas, because I want to discuss something that all of us have in our lives right now. Addiction. Addiction and specifically our beliefs about it.

Whether we are addicts ourselves or we have addicts we love, we are complex, interesting people that can’t stop looking at their smartphones, sniffing drugs, or drinking alcohol. You name the addiction and we are all out there and we all partake in them on some level. It might not be us, but it might be our spouses or closest friends that are involved.

Now for some of you, you already have some feelings going on. You might want to stop reading this because it’s just another “drug article” this, or whatever. But, I challenge you. If you are feeling fear, anxiety about knowing more about this, it’s very likely because you need to read on. Please stay with me on this. I know when I uncover things that run through the heart of my issues, I tend to not want to face them. Have courage, you’re not alone.

Let’s look at a couple of interesting “experiments” from our history:

  1. The Viet Nam War. During the Vietnam War, over 20% of the active-duty military were using heroin–the study I’m citing here also says that if you tried narcotics in Vietnam, 79% of the folks who tried, tried heroin. The media was in a frenzy back then, and they thought that America’s military would return addicted to drugs and would be our undoing.
    1. But that didn’t happen. What happened was our troops came home and 95% of them stopped using… They stopped cold turkey just like that.
    2. I still meet Vets all the time who fought in Vietnam. Why aren’t they addicted, or worse yet?
    3. Very Curious–this made me go into overdrive.
  2. Dr. Bruce K. Alexander and his Rat Park. During about the same time in Vietnam, a doctor was also performing some experiments that challenged some of the previous experiments on behavior and drugs. Dr. Bruce had been looking at the experiment of the “druggie rat in a cage.” This is the one performed on rats, with one bottle of freshwater, one bottle of water laced with drugs, and one rat. It was very simple, empty cage, two bottles, add the rat, watch… rat does drugs until it’s dead. Drugs bad, drugs kill, rat wanted more and more. NEXT! (NO!!!!) I thought the same thing in 2021. Yikes. Chemical hooks get into us, and we’re doomed. But really no. People use diamorphine all the time to recover from hip replacements, injuries, and the like. Grandma doesn’t go in to get her hip replaced and comes out a druggie… nope… Something is wrong with that perspective.
    1. Dr. Bruce tried something different. His hypothesis was basically that of course, the rat is going to go for the drug water because they had put nothing else in the cage.
    2. He created “Rat Park”, this was a cage that had two bottles, one laced with drugs, and one clean, but he also added other loads of cheese, toys, things to do, tunnels, but most importantly, he added other rats so that they could play, have sex, and, most importantly, to be with each other.
    3. The Rats in Rat Park did something very different. They didn’t like the drug water at all. None of the rats used it compulsively, none of them died, none of them became “addicted.” Huh?
    4. This was a real eye-opener, it challenges everything.

Major Takeaway: As a result of Dr. Bruce K. Alexander’s work, he’d uncovered that chemical hooks, the idea that most of us still believe–that if you’re exposed to or around drugs, you’ll naturally get chemically addicted to them and then you’ll be an addict. If you do heroin every day for a few days… your screwed. You’ll be addicted and that’s it.

Super Major Takeaway: What if addiction isn’t about your chemical hooks? What if it’s about your cage?

Dr. Bruce’s study has to force us to think: what if addiction isn’t really what we think it is–what if addiction is really adaptation? Addiction should be called bonding. All of us need to bond, and some of us due to some trauma, something, someone; might be missing a part of our lives where we needed bonding and true human connection.

The worst off of us have lost bonding with reality, or our children and family, or our deepest loves or loved ones… so we fill the need with other bonds other connections that help us cope. I and others believe that the most dangerous addictions aren’t just to drugs and alcohol. There are other addictions like gambling, porn, “digital addiction”, that are doing immeasurable damage to our lives. We just don’t have a war on smartphones [YET].

Now, lots of us drink, but we aren’t homeless. We could all probably drink a 1/5 of bourbon or vodka a day, and if it wasn’t for the hangovers and bad moods, we’d basically be okay. Sure, we’d not perform very well, but I worked in an office full of professional, rich, drunks; all day every day did drugs, drank–you name it… for years on end. None of them are homeless now, maybe lots of them have health problems. That’s not the point. The point is we can use these things and not turn into homeless people overnight, we have bank accounts and people that would save us.

Let’s take a quick trip to Portugal. Back in 2000, Portugal was a drug den. It was a disaster by some accounts. The government of Portugal hired Dr. João Goulão to create a drug program in the country to help curb the rise of addiction. What he did was to suggest that they legalize all drugs, from cocaine to crack–but the key to his advice was that all the money they used to interdict, to enforce, to rehab folks in the past, should be used differently. It should be used to connect the drug addicts back into society. Specifically, he wanted to make sure the money was spent on giving the drug addicts a reason for getting up in the morning. He wanted to add things to their cages that made life worth living. Portugal responded with programs that, yes, still included traditional rehabs and psychiatry, but they also included programs where former mechanics would go back to work as mechanics and the government would pay for half of their salary for a certain amount of time. They funded business ideas with grants to drug addicts via microloans, all to do one thing. To rebuild the connections that these people had lost, and to help them rediscover missing bonds with their families, friends, and society. Instead of ripping them away from society, he buried them deep in it he planted seeds of connections. Look at the results. It’s amazing.

Let’s bring it home. Today, we all feel vulnerable on some levels. All of us have varying levels of disconnection and addiction. It’s scary because we live in a time that we are all supposedly more connected then ever. Today, I feel as if we are living in a parody of human connections. Those connections are played out on the screens of Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

If you’ve had a recent crisis in your life, a real one, I can guarantee that it’s not your Twitter followers that you call or those old Facebook friends who you haven’t seen in years that will be helping you. It will be your flesh and blood friends who will be in your corner, on the phone with you in the dark of night during your deepest darkest moments. It will be the real people in your life that will hug and get you through those moments. And if you don’t have those… Then you have a real problem.

Bill McKibben, has noted in his many books and talks that he sees floor space in our homes increasing, but personal connections decreasing, he sees digital stuff growing in our lives, but tangible human interactions on the decline. I agree with him, and I see this as being more than just an individual problem for us. It’s a global social problem and we need social recovery along with individual recovery.

What we now need to do is tell the addicts in our lives and maybe ourselves a different message to wake them/us up. We don’t need to bring the Intervention reality show into our homes, we just need to change our philosophy about how we view addictions today and we need to immediately change the narrative. We need to get to the people we love and remind them of this:

“We love you and we want to deepen our connections with you. We love you and we and we don’t want you to feel alone. We are here with you and we love and accept you. We are here for you, no matter how bad it gets, we are here.”

This is what we need to be telling addicts.

You’re not alone. I’m here for you.

Finally, let’s rewrite one key belief that we might have held as true for a long time:

The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, the opposition of addiction is connection.

Let’s do this people! Go out there and make it happen. I believe in you. Take from the day today. Take from today and make tomorrow easier. I love you all!


Featured Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

*This article is based largely on the TED Talk by Johann Hari, you can see it here. Thank you @Ben for sharing it with me.

** Here’s the research group I joined: https://maps.org/participate/participate-in-research

Notes from this morning #9: Invisible Fences are real.

Every day, I walk my dog Bailey around our neighborhood about 2.5 miles to the marina, where she loves to swim. We walk by this one house that has two dogs that constantly bark whenever someone walks by. My wife Summer calls these dogs the sad dogs. She calls them sad dogs because they both have huge black invisible fence collars around their necks. One of the dogs, a black and white pit bull, charges toward the street in a frenzy, then hits the brakes just moments before hitting the invisible fence line. You can even hear the little beep that the collar makes before it’s about to shock the dog. The other dog just sits in the back barking away with this squeaky bark–very sad indeed.

It occurs to me that a lot of us act like these dogs. I know I sometimes do. We do it in different ways. We all have these invisible fences in our brains.

But, the fences we put around ourselves aren’t just invisible, they are completely imagined. Imagined by us! We tell ourselves that we can’t do this or that. Any slight discouragement that hits us when we are trying to do something new, we immediately say, “I can’t do this.”, or “This isn’t for me.”, and BAM just like the sad dogs, we run back to the house with our tails between our legs. Stopped dead in our tracks.

Our invisible fence tells us things like, “I’m not very good at that”, “I’m not smart enough for that.”, “I could NEVER EVER do that.” We sabotage our experiences because of a little shock we may have gotten in the past, and now we “won’t ever make that mistake again”. All-day long this can happen, we convince ourselves that a certain level of wealth and success isn’t for “someone like me”, or, that leadership position that opened up in my company, is going to be taken by one of the top doggies.” “I could never start a multi-million dollar company. I am not that type of person. I just don’t feel like it’s right.” We invent all of these reasons about why that thing we really aspire for, just isn’t quite the right thing because we just aren’t ready for it yet.

Even though we can, we don’t.

Even though we should, could, would, we won’t. How sad.

Woof.

–Bailey “the Dog” Oostra

Now I don’t want to be casual here, being casual leads to casualties. I’m not saying that we haven’t had VERY PAINFUL experiences in our lives that truly should be respected and dealt with. These things taught us to stay away from certain things that we very well should stay away from (like sniffing unknown white powders…). This is not what I mean. Kindness and empathy should be exercised on ourselves at all times. We are all humans, we are all incredible creatures with complexities and differences. However, we do have to muster up the strength to overcome the imagined fences and mental blocks that we’ve created based on other false beliefs that may weasel their way into our minds and our philosophies. We do have to make careful assessments about our feelings and be aware that some of them might just be an imagined fence.

Here’s the secret. And no, it’s not going to be child regression, or inner shadow work, or a trip to the shrink. Nope! It goes back to an old philosophy that’s been re-worded, and re-branded, over and over and over. If you fall off your horse, bike, motorcycle, unicycle, tricycle, (lots of cycles here…), anyway you get my point. GET BACK ON IT! Try it again! Try something new! Try a different approach.

Are you afraid of taking to new people? Don’t get self-hypnosis, a life coach, or jump into a self-help group yet… That’s might not be the right thing to do. What I do suggest is to just stick your little toe into the sea of uncertainty in that moment and just say, “Hello.” to a stranger in line next time you’re getting coffee. Ask the barista how they are doing, and just smile and listen. While you’re out for a walk, stop and ask to pet someone’s dog you think is cute.

Take little steps up to and past your imagined fences. Be aware and reflect back on how you felt when you do those little incremental steps. The goal will be to be able to plunge into the things that you once had fenced yourself out of–because you are strong, brave and you have courage.

Last thought: Courage is the basis of all self-advancement and development. Let’s jump the fence together.

Let’s go get them out there today! Love to you all!

Featured Photo by Daniel Oostra on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #8: You don’t get paid for your time.

Teaching things to my son is sometimes tough. Not tough because Ben has a bad attitude or he doesn’t listen. It’s tough because I often lack the right package to deliver to him, or I’m not communicating my point very well. That’s why I spend these mornings coming up with something valuable to share; I work on my skills so I can have something to share.

One thing that I’ve changed in my life is not to play music or audiobooks when I’m in the car with Ben. Not for long trips but trips under an hour or so. I try to shut off radios and things when I’m 1:1 with him. It’s the perfect time to talk and get to know my son better each time we drive around.

Yesterday, I was teaching him this philosophy: “You don’t get paid for your time; you get paid for your value in the market.” I joked with him and said, “America is not a bed. It’s a ladder.” It’s a ladder that we can climb, and we climb it by becoming more valuable. I told him about how I started my career making $5.25 an hour as a pizza cook for a small family-owned pizzeria in Frankfort, IL.

He understood right away that I only made that much because I hadn’t become very valuable to the marketplace. I explained that I didn’t really think it was a great idea to pay kids $15.00 to work at Wendy’s because I wasn’t sure if they were valuable enough to make the business money and take home $15.00/hr. America is a ladder, and you climb the ladder by becoming more valuable to the marketplace. Now, that’s not to say people aren’t valuable as parents, as church members, as community members–no, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that if you aren’t bringing value to the marketplace, then you shouldn’t get paid more. If you become more valuable to the marketplace, then you’ll make more money. So, you don’t get paid for your time; you get paid for your value in the marketplace (also called reality).

I asked my son, “If I was still a pizza cook at Enrico’s Restaurant 30 years later, should I be paid more?” He took some time to think about it, and he said, “no.” I said, “why?”, “because you’d still just be a pizza cook, right?” Exactly. Why pay me more just because I’d chosen to stay in the same job? I wasn’t bringing more value to the marketplace! Maybe over those 30 years, I could make a pizza in 15 seconds instead of 20–sorry, no one cares! That’s not adding any value.

What a shame it would be if I started and just finished my career by being a pizza cook–Well… that’s not what life is about. That’s not what America is about. We have to all start and grow; we all have to become more valuable to the marketplace if we want to become more successful.

Here's the secret. Learn how to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. Work hard at your job, sure you'll make a living; if you work harder on yourself, you'll make a fortune. You can't become wealthy on-demand, but you can become more valuable on-demand. You can always pick up that book, take that extra class, and get to work on yourself at any time.

Take an assessment of your situation. Are you expecting more and but not bringing anything more? Waiting for the market to change, the economy to change, the company policy change? If so, remember this: You’re waiting. For me, it’s easier to climb than to wait; it’s more enjoyable for me. America is a ladder. You don’t get paid for your time. You get paid for how valuable you’ve become in the marketplace.

Let’s get to work team! Have a great day. I’m sending love to you people!

Featured Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash


Notes from this morning #7: So, you’re BUSY?

When I first started teaching people how to program and do web development, I used to take breaks and get on the phones. I liked doing some of the admission sides of things. I really enjoyed doing interviews with potential students because I realized that when they talked to an admissions counselor, they didn’t always get the perspective that I had working as a web developer for over a decade. Doing more interviews meant that I got to tell them my on-the-ground experiences about programming and web development, I could share with them the fact that programming and web development have opened incredible opportunities for the initiated and hard-working, but it wasn’t going to be easy for most people.

There are times when the job is boring to the point of mundane, sometimes you break things trying to fix other things, and sometimes you find yourself just spinning your wheels. Having worked in a couple of different roles, I see that this is true for a lot of jobs and industries. Yes, there are fun things about any job. There are also the hard, grueling tasks that take more brainpower than brute force, and sometimes it’s the opposite. You have to have grit to get through those tasks and days.

My mentor called me out this last weekend, I was telling him about what I had been up too all week. I told him how busy I was with this and that, how busy I was taking care of these side things I had going on. The phone calls, the emails. I was busy and exhausted. Then he said something I didn’t believe I’d hear him say:

“Dan, busy is lazy. Busy is weak.”

I didn’t understand at first, but then he reminded me of a story that I told him about how I used to avoid doing hard tasks when I was programming everyday. I’d get to some tough part of a website I was building and whoosh, I was off on a break–I’d call it “desk-drawer processing” to feel better. I told myself I’d give it a rest for a bit and the solution would come to me. Sure that can work, but when I came back to the task, sometimes I’d find myself distracted, working on little tasks that I’d create right there on the fly. “Oh, this graphic is off a little.” Or, “I don’t like this font, let me look at other fonts.” And, “The spacing on this code is off, maybe I can find a tool to auto parse and clean up this messy code.”

I’d start to do things that avoided the hard work I needed to do. I would make myself feel like I was doing something but really… I was just doing busy work.

“Dan, do the hard things first.” Is what I was being told. I needed to refocus on the difficult problems with my code and not on the easy work that didn’t even matter at the end. What I needed was an application that did what I wanted it to do, not how it looked or how the fonts didn’t match the layout.

So my question for you this beautiful Tuesday morning (or later for some of you): Are you Busy??

I challenge you to dig in today. Do the hard things first. Don’t get trapped in busy work. If you’re not sure, take a moment and consider the things that make the biggest impact in your bottom line. Are you doing those things? If you’re supposed to be calling someone you don’t really like but you need to talk to them to get your task done, then call them! If you have some painfully mundane tasks to get through to finish a key phase in your project, then get to it! Let’s do the hard things today, because they are hard and because they are the things that will get us closer to the finish line.

Here’s an acronym I came up with to remind myself what busy really means:

  • B – Being,
  • U – Unable to,
  • S – Stop,
  • Y – Yourself

Remember, self-conduct and self-control are the basis of all personal achievement. You have to act the way you need to act to get the results you want. Don’t forget! Stop yourself next time you find yourself in a whirlwind of activity, and look down. Are you moving forward, or are you spinning furiously in one spot because you want to feel like things are going well? Moving forward takes grit, perseverance, and resolve.

Have a great week all! Love you! Chins up today–you’re my inner circle!

Featured Photo by Karen Lau on Unsplash

Notes from this morning #6: Your success might be costing you your life.

How many times have we met that uber-successful person who is rich, has a big house, all the right stuff, but inside the person is worn down, tired, and dead. They get to the top of the ladder only to find that it feels like the bottom. I know I’ve felt that way from time to time, every day is the same as the last. I was stuck in the marathon of a career, 30 years, 40 years, if I can only make it. Yawn. I feel tired just thinking about it.

This morning I took a deep dive into this, and I did it by examining some of the most successful people in the world: Athletes, Entertainers, and Entrepreneurs seem to be doing it differently–and they are. They work differently, they structure their days differently.

I just checked, it can cost around $4000.00 to sit courtside at a Laker’s game. That means some of you out there will pay almost 4k to watch a dude like Kostas Antekopoumpo from Greece work for 3 hours or so. Front row seats at Katy Perry’s show in Las Vegas coming up in December? I saw tickets for over $5000.00. How much would you pay to go watch Elon Musk, David Branson, Oprah, or any of those entrepreneurs give you personal advice? Do you know how former basketball star Magic Johnson and now entrepreneur has made on speaking fees? $600,000,000.00 (mic drop). Are these people worth the money we are willing to pay? Well, a lot of people think so. These people inspire us, they mystify us with their work, they bring the very best out in us.

Will your success cost you your life?

Indulge me for a minute. Let’s take a walk back to about 1850. Factories have been invented. People are coming in from the farms to the industrial centers and putting in 70-80 hours a week. They were working on “factory time”, a bureaucratic time system that cared nothing for the creativity or lives of the people working. They were trained and put to work. We still operate on this time system to a large degree. We’ve had a labor movement in this country, so things have changed a little. Now we are expected to work Monday-Friday, 40 hours — which for most is like 80 because we are constantly connected to work. Sure we get a couple of weeks of vacation with some civic holidays sprinkled in there–but we are still on “factory time.”

We even teach our children this with a weird mix of the agricultural time system and the old factory time system. They goto school 9 months out of the year, because when the country was mostly agricultural, it was more important for them to come home and help the family harvest crops back then, so schools let them out for a bit to work in the fields. Some school systems have changed this and now are full factory time–school year around. They want to stamp out a worker bee in 12 years and make them “ready” for life. Look at some kids in middle school these days, they move with the speed and energy of a middle-age worker coming home from the factory. That’s just after 6 years… If they are too energetic, creative, or they don’t fit factory time, we say that they are ADHD–and give them drugs to force them into the system.

We live in an era of exponential results

We don’t live in those times anymore. So why do we cling to the old systems? Today results come fast and furiously. Discontinuously. We live in an era where results can be achieved much more quickly than in the past. There are more millionaires today than ever before. We need systems and structures that provide us with the highest levels of rejuvenation, energy, and creativity. We need to figure out how to manage our energies to serve our lives and our families.

One word sticks out in the paragraph above: discontinuously. I mean that our results happen from time to time, but, not usually every day. It’s not the consistent achievement of results that matters. It’s the magnitude of big results that come every once in a while. It’s about learning how to structure our lives to capture those times, to be prepared for the game day, showtimes, the big moments in our lives, and the days that mean the most. We need to be ready to do the quick sprints when we see an opportunity. If we are stuck in marathon mode, all we are doing is trying to get to the end. We don’t have the energy to sprint and rock out some crazy results. The people that we looked at before achieve enormous amounts, and they do it because they focus all of their time on preparation for the “big days.” They take incredible care of themselves. They wall themselves off of all others when they have free days. So let’s put that all into a framework, a system, a philosophy. I’m going to call it the Energize Time System.

Energize Time System

First of all, we can’t be energizing others if we are dead tired inside. Dan Sullivan, computer scientist, author, and coach has taught me to look at my days differently. To structure my days in three very specific ways. I’ll share what I’ve learned from him.

Dan’s 30 years of working with over 20,000 people and studying the most successful of all of us, has developed a system based on how he’s watched top athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs work. It’s designed to make sure we have the energy to use the only competitive advantage we have over the machines and robots we are also creating, What is a human’s competitive advantage over machines? Creativity. Machines cannot create things out of thin air like we can. Humans are so remarkable in this way. They can achieve things with creativity in any situation, under any circumstance. So let’s get into this.

The 3-day System

Dan teaches that we can break our days up into three types. Buffer Days, Free Days, and Focus Days.

Buffer Days

Buffer Days are days for preparation, they are for practicing and rehearsing. These days are for getting ready for the game days of our lives, the times we get ready for our showtimes! On Buffer Days you should be working to organize your schedules, delegating things that you need to get done during your Focus Days or Free Days (I’ll get to those next). They are your setup days. If you go and watch Katy Perry’s show about her behind the scenes, you’ll find that she is doing an enormous amount of preparation. She’s learning how to do the dance routines, working on her voice, exercising, meditating–she’s doing all of this in preparation for her next show. One that will last only a few hours–yet she spends hours and hours and hours on buffering her life to prepare her for those key moments. No wonder she’s worth 300 million.

Focus Days

Focus Days are the game days. These are the days that really matter. Dan has shown me that during the year for most people there are only about 50 key moments in a professional’s year that really matter.

Those moments are things like, that meeting with the boss to ask for a raise or promotion, a trip that you’re taking for work, a presentation that you do for the board of directors that could punch your ticket. That means there are relatively few days throughout the year that actually have the biggest impact on our lives and fortunes.

We have to figure out what those things are and make sure we are ready for them. When those days come, that meeting comes… we are ready and have the energy to “hit a home run”, “score”, or “slam-dunk that meeting.” Notice how we use the language of athletes to describe when something goes well. I’ve tried to slam dunk… it’s not something you do without training for it. Figure out which days in your week are the most vital. For me, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my most productive days, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are Buffer Days. Tuesday and Thursday are the days that I try to schedule my most important activities. They are my game days.

Right now, I use the early mornings on Saturday now to do a course I’m taking on productivity, but Sunday is a day that I reserve for the next kind of day, Free Days.

Free Days

These aren’t vacation days per se, but they should be incorporated into all of your vacations. Free days are just that, free from work, business, meetings, calls, everything. Free days are meant to rejuvenate you. Rejuvenate means becoming young again. I love that the word juvenile is the base of that word, we want to become young again on those days and free our minds up so that we can be creative again. Without the energy to be creative, we can’t leverage our competitive edge. So, on Free Days you are building up your energies to have great ideas, to be with your family, to do things that you love doing and are healthy and good for your soul and spirit. You have to build these days into your schedules because if you don’t, you won’t — and then you’ll miss it. One of my inner circle members shared this quote he got from his wife with me yesterday:

“Time is a better measure of success than money. Money is the currency of work, Time is the currency of life.”

You’re going to have to create systems and structures that keep you from getting distracted on those days. Turn your phone on DND (do not disturb)–plan for those days on your buffer days. Delegate things prior to your Free Days and protect them like you’re protecting your baby. These are the days that will give you the bandwidth to make the sprints.

(One bit of advice Dan gives is that on Free Days you can talk to your spouse or significant other about how your doing with business etc, because he says, there is nothing that you shouldn’t be able to discuss with your spouse. But it should be about how you might be feeling about your work and business, or how it relates to the family, not the technicalities of your job.)

To produce more, to be more we must work at it. We must use self-knowledge and change as tools to design a life we want to live. We all want more, we all want success, and we can achieve these things if we use our creative genius, it’s there inside of us waiting. I believe in you! Promise yourself that you will become the best person you can be, then get to work doing it. I’ve given you some ideas–now let’s get to work, or rest!

If you want to learn more about Dan Sullivan and his work, check out his Strategic Coach program. DM me if you need advice on getting started.

Featured Photo by Spring Fed Images on Unsplash

Notes from this morning #5: Turning Nothing into Something.

What is an idea? Is it tangible? How is it that some people can come up with an idea, bake it in their mind, and out comes this thing? This morning I want to take you through what I consider to be one of the most powerful skills we as humans have. Creation.

The 4 Elements of Turning Nothing into Something

  1. Start with your imagination and ideas. Are imagination and ideas nothing? How tangible are ideas? Is the idea to build a home nothing? What about the idea you have to create a business? How about the idea of having better relationships with people? These are all ideas I’ve had. Yesterday, I wrote about the set of your sail. You have to know where you want to go though, right? You have to use your imagination to think about what you want to build, create, achieve, learn or do. Super achievers are doing this all the time. I was watching a show about NASA and I remember seeing the moon lander simulator at NASA Langley Research Center. Astronauts are the ultimate super achievers. They achieve so much by using their imaginations to practice things like moon landings. Gymnasts carefully go through routines in their mind’s eye–over and over again. These people are simulating the things they want to do. So, start with developing your imagination so you can see your ideas clearly.
  2. Once you have your idea captured in your mind. Now you have to believe what you’ve imagined is possible for you. You have to believe that your idea can become a real thing in your life. You have to find the evidence, sometimes based on your own experience. Think of it like this, “I did it before, I can do it again.”, “I started from nothing before, I can start again.” Maybe you have more specific evidence, or you need to read about someone else who did something like it. You need to find evidence so that it can begin to have substance. Then you have to have the faith to believe. Faith adds to the substance. Having the faith to believe in your idea is the next step in making it real for you. You have to convince yourself that what you’ve imagined can happen to you.
  3. Now comes the fun part. Make it real. Pull it out of the ether and lay it down. Build that business. Make that new product. Do the actions that you need to do to create that thing you’ve been dreaming about and build it. This is where you apply work. Goto work making it tangible. Breathe life into the idea. Take it from your mind to paper to the object that didn’t exist before you imagined it.
  4. Finally, appreciate the creation process you’ve used to make it real and do the work. Appreciate the disciplines that make it real. If you’ve got your home, do the work of living in your home, the way you’ve designed it. Enjoy it. Do the work.

Have a great morning team!

Feature Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash

Notes from this morning #4: Philosophies that changed my life, and the next five years…

I had a huge setback in my business yesterday. My business partner and I have been waiting anxiously for a large delivery of equipment that would propel our business and ignite our revenues. I would give myself daily affirmation about, “it’s on the way!”, and other hopeful thinking. I found out that the company we were working with got scammed. Thankfully, we had the foresight to not wire money to them and pay with an expensive and well-known credit card company that extended me a very large line of credit to make these purchases and we didn’t lose money. But we did lose time. I spent this morning recalibrating my vision and reminding myself specifically about the philosophies I’ve been taught, the ones that have helped me changed my life. I also thought about the next five years and I know exactly what will be there, I’ll put that for you at the end of this post. Let me share those with you.

First of all, let’s remember. We all have challenges in our lives, we all have the same sun, the same wind, the same governments, the same world in which to operate. It’s something I remind my son all the time, who is an avid and accomplished sailor (and he’s only 12 now), that it’s not the wind that gets you where you end up, it’s the set of the sail.

The Three Key Wishes

We all watch markets, we all know that recession usually follows expansion, and expansion follows recession unless the bottom drops out on it all and never comes back. Still, we find ourselves hoping and wishing for things that will never happen. So what should you wish for? I’ve asked myself this question, and I find myself doing it a lot when I’m in a huge expansion and/or a huge recession.

  1. Wish you were better. Don’t wish for it to be easier in the world and in the business you’re in. Wish you were better. Better at everything. If you want things to change you have to change.
  2. Wish for more skills. Don’t wish for fewer problems in your business or life. Wish for the skills that you need to attack those problems with a resolve that you’ve developed that won’t quit. Do it Until.
  3. Wish for more wisdom. Don’t wish for less challenge, fewer obstacles, or less adverse conditions. Wish for the wisdom to understand. You can’t grow without challenges. You can’t fly without gravity. You can’t get rich without it being a challenge. You have to understand the challenges and overcome them. I believe you will if you seek the wisdom to overcome the challenge.

Remember that we are humans. We are remarkable and we can do remarkable things.

I used to use parts of the speech that JFK gave at Rice University on September 12, 1962, in my commencement speeches for the graduates of the programming school I helped build. I couldn’t get through a single one without tears flowing from my face. I was so proud of my students and the challenges they found the wisdom to overcome.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things (the other hard goals the US had at the time), not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

Finally, I promised that I tell you what I think the next five years will be like. The next five years will be exactly like the last five, or even the last five thousand years… The next five years will be: Opportunity mixed with Difficulty.

How’s the set of your sail today? Can it handle the wind? As my son told me yesterday, you have to “hike out” more on the boat to keep it from flipping. What he meant was you have to lean out further off the side of the boat to adjust for the challenge of sailing a larger vessel.

Have a great day all! Be sure to check out President Kennedy’s speech. I’ve cued it up to the right spot. Love you!

Featured Photo by Ludomił Sawicki on Unsplash

Notes from this morning #3: The Ant’s Philosophy.

I love a good quote. But sometimes they can leave you a bit empty because it’s really just a quote. Business philosopher Jim Rohn said, “Affirmation without action is the beginning of delusion.” Is that just a quote though? No. It’s a philosophy.

I opened a successful computer programming learning center in Tyson’s Corner, VA back in 2016. I did it with very little planning, support from management, or much money. When I reflect back on those days, I realize most of the plans I made failed. But, I had taken on the philosophy of an ant, it’s nearly the same as Nike’s motto… except the ants added one word. Until.

Ant philosophy: Just Do It, Until.

Ever drop something in the path of some busy ants? Drop a pebble in the path of an ant and see what it does. It will immediately try to go around, put more stuff there–you’ll find that whatever you do to that ant, it will continue to try to find a way. Block the path and it will try to scratch its’ way through the rock or whatever is in front of it until it gets to the destination. The ant knows exactly where it wants to go and will do what it takes to get there until it is there; or until it is dead.

A baby has the same philosophy as an ant when it is trying to walk. Does a baby decide, “Heck, I’m gonna skip this walking business?” No, babies try to walk until they can… I don’t see many adults crawling around much.

Are you getting the point? It’s that plans fail, people get lazy, and stuff happens. There are your best intentions and then there is the result. In the middle shit happens, always–every time. What you do when that happens is why you need a specific philosophy to keep you going.

Let’s try another one that I love, and I wish I’d been taught this much sooner in life.

“Profits are better than Wages.”

Wages will make you a living (which is fine), Profits will make you a fortune (which is well… SUPER fine). See the difference there? Which is going to get you up at 4 am to get things done? If you have the resolve to do it, you can do it for both. For me, I need something to pull me out of my dreams and back into the fray. You need it too.

Do you hate paying your bills? Well, maybe it’s your philosophy about paying bills then. I used to hate paying bills. But then I developed the philosophy that by paying off my personal and business liabilities sooner, I increase my net worth, I have less stress in my life and I can perform better. So paying my bills helps makes me wealthier and perform better.

I used to hate the idea of paying taxes. Wrong philosophy Dan! Then my mentor taught me this philosophy: “You have to feed the goose that laid the golden egg.” Huh? Yes, you have to pay taxes to the country that provides you the opportunities that you have! Now, some could argue that we feed that goose too much. But, at least here in the USA, we have opportunities everywhere. The government isn’t perfect but at least it gives us the playing field that we can operate on. Try doing that in some other countries where there is no golden goose. Don’t let taxes be the reason you don’t start that new business or try to make money.

If you find yourself lost, worried, overworked, frustrated, don’t look at your plans, develop the philosophies that will get you there, until.

Finally, let’s look at the word resolve. What does that word mean? The best definition that I have heard for this is also a wonderful philosophy and it came from a young female student during a seminar in Foster City California. When the group was asked what resolve is, some didn’t know, some thought they did, but then this junior high school girl about three rows back raises her hand and said, “I think resolve means promising yourself that you will never give up.” That’s the best I’ve ever heard. Ants have resolve; do we?


Featured Image by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

Notes From the Morning #2: “Bread for the Head”

My challenge for you today is to ask: What’s the turbidity of your mind’s perspective?

Once working on a project for NASA, they sent me up to Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution. I was working on a project that provided standards for hydrologic research for schools. Specifically, we were testing water and examining the effects of temperature change, salinity, and turbidity waters around Cape Cod. The term turbidity was new for me. (I’ll post some more below on that)

My point is this–garbage in, garbage out, right? If you fill your perspective, your mind, your attention with dirty, scary, violent, and dark news, what do you think your perspective of the world will be? Simple: dirty, scared, and dark. This is something that I had been doing for years and I had no idea how dirty my brain was until I started pouring in beautiful clean, clear inputs.

I’ve know now that without constant vigilance, we can be dumping “dirty water” into our minds without knowing it.

Remember, media gets paid to grab our attention and keep it. It keeps showing us “the dirt” because they know we are biologically incapable of not looking at it. Do beautiful sunsets create traffic jams? Nope, car accidents do–because of rubberneckers. The media is constantly showing us just the accidents, the rapes, the break-ins, the bad stuff because they know we can’t help it. They want ratings, money, and the power to command our attentions.

Instead of just garbage in, garbage out (we are much more sophisticated than computers btw), let’s look at this algorithm for feeding our minds and creating the lives we want.

INPUT –> THINK –> EXPECT –> CREATE –> LIFE

I challenge you to turn on what you want in life, turn off the rest. Curate the inputs that come into your life. I’ve done this by going on a low information diet. I’ve shut down all but the necessary notifications on my phone, and I’m looking for specific tools that will only feed me the information I need to know about my business and my goals. I want the best tasting and most nourishing, bread for my head.

Have a great week all! Love you!

Turbidity and Water

Hydrologist sampling for sediment and turbidity, Little Colorado River, Grand Canyon
A USGS hydrographer collecting a suspended-sediment water sample from the Little Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA. Credit: Mike Nolan, USGS

Turbidity makes water cloudy or opaque. Turbidity is the measure of relative clarity of a liquid. It is an optical characteristic of water and is a measurement of the amount of light that is scattered by material in the water when a light is shined through the water sample. The higher the intensity of scattered light, the higher the turbidity. Material that causes water to be turbid include clay, silt, very tiny inorganic and organic matter, algae, dissolved colored organic compounds, and plankton and other microscopic organisms.

https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/turbidity-and-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

Notes from the morning #1: Character

Where does the word character come from? I’m always fascinated by the origin of words. Character is an interesting word. It has many meanings, and it is an old word. If you look it up in the dictionary you’ll find a long list of definitions. Let’s look at its origin.

Credit: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=definition+of+character

Middle English: from Old French caractere, via Latin from Greek kharaktēr ‘a stamping tool’. From the early sense ‘distinctive mark’ arose ‘token, feature, or trait’ (early 16th century), and from this ‘a description, especially of a person’s qualities’, giving rise to ‘distinguishing qualities’.

When I thought about this some more, it really struck a chord in me. I had looked at “character building” and “my personal character” as something more fleeting and ephemeral. In other words, I wasn’t taking it very seriously. I thought character was something we got, in terms of sticking to a hard task and finishing it. Or, as a consequence of something I’d endured… I realized I was treating my character too lightly.

The reason is when we think about the Greek origins, “a stamping tool” or a chisel of some kind–I think more of character creation and I have to take responsibility for my character and the development of character in my life and my son. It’s not something that happens by accident, it’s something that you design, you choose, you build with your hands and sweat. Character cannot be left to chance happenings or by accident. You have to craft your character.

How do we do this? Well, we craft character in ourselves by the choices we make, the thoughts we think, the values that we include in our lives. We don’t just define character, we shape and become it actively. We work hard to identify the qualities that we want to incorporate into our world.

I challenge you to think about your character, how was it developed? Are there qualities and things in your life that you need to look at closely to make sure you just didn’t accidentally add these aspects of your personality that the whole world can see? Then decide how you will define your character and harness it to serve yourself and others.

“There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy, Three Methods of Reform (1900)